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The Poisoned Pawn Variation

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Normally, Sherlock avoided anything stronger than nicotine and caffeine when on the case. Compared to the moment all the pieces fit themselves together and a solution became apparent, drugs were a cheap distraction, a tawdry high.

But this time was different, he hadn’t expected there to be a case. Mycroft’s assignment wasn’t a case. Whatever Mycroft had told everyone else, he had no doubts about what it truly was. 

He taken the first doses long before they hit the tarmac, it was nothing to take several more once he was in the air – no one to see, no one to stop him, his hands noting the type and quantity on a piece paper more from habit than from any conscious decision, Mycroft wouldn’t be there to read it.

Then his phone had rang and the plane had turned around – Moriarty was back.  

Sherlock eyes shot open and he sat upright, his movement arrested by the line in his forearm.

“Welcome back, Brother Mine.”

Sherlock's eyes shot to Mycroft seated at his side. “I said I needed to go to Baker St. Why am I here?” Sherlock began to pull the line from arm as well as the other tubes and wires connected to his person.

“You had a brief cardiac arrest. Common occurrence with overdoses. You’re quite fortunate your best friend and his wife are both well-versed in CPR and that the aeroplane was equipped with a defibrillator. You will notice some bruising later, however, Mrs. Watson was quite vigorous.”

“How long?”

“Did your heart stop? 6 minutes. You’ve been out for hours, though.”

“No. How long did the video play?”

“Sherlock.” Mycroft sighed.

“You’re the one who called me back for this. How long?”

“37 minutes.”

Sherlock blinked. “One minute for every month Moriarty has been dead.”

“Yes, I can count too. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Not on its own, perhaps. One of your people had it recorded, yes?”

 “Yes, of course. Sherlock, you really ought to stay in bed.”

“Bring me the footage and I promise to stay for another 37 minutes.”

Mycroft looked down at the black bag near his feet and pulled out the laptop inside. Sherlock snatched it from his hands and flipped the screen open, pressing play on the video display. The manipulated voice sounding strange against the background beeps of the hospital room.

“Do you know how it got it broadcast?” Sherlock asked without removing his eyes from the scene.

“We’re looking into the BBC. It could have been an inside job. Or it could have been hacked it from outside.”

“So you don’t know anything then.”

“Not as of yet.”

“Then what have you been doing for the past several hours?”

“Something more important.”

“What’s more important than the Work? Surely the pastries in the cafeteria can’t have been that good.”

“Sherlock, have you stopped to consider that the video appeared at the precise moment your plane plane lifted off of England’s soil?” Mycroft continued cautiously, “If he truly is back, you’ll be a target, you’ll need protection.”

“Moriarty is dead, Mycroft. I saw it with my own eyes. Gun in mouth. Boom. Blood. Dead. I saw it.”

Mycroft’s voice brooked the tiniest bit of sympathy. “And your senses have never deceived you before, Brother Mine?”

Sherlock’s eyes narrowed at his brother. “It’s impossible.”

“Not impossible, Brother. You of all people should know that.”

“Get your people to find out how it was broadcast. Leave the rest of this to me.”

“For a matter of this importance, you have the full backing of the British Government. I suggest you avail yourself of it. If not for yourself, perhaps you will consider the citizenry.” Mycroft gave a pointed look to the off-duty doctor pacing anxiously outside of the doorway.

Sherlock’s hand grabbed Mycroft’s arm before he could walk away. “He couldn’t be safer, he’s married to a highly skilled assassin.”

“A very pregnant one.”

“Even pregnant women can shoot, Mycroft.”

“Yes, Sherlock. They can.”

“What do you know, Mycroft?” Sherlock eyes widened before tightening into slits.

“A great many things, Brother Mine. But love is such a curious thing.  It changes people so, but it can be such a difficult thing to tell if it’s for the better or the worse.” Mycroft’s eyes scanned his brother, quickly filing away his results, before he gently removed Sherlock’s hand from him arm. “I did warn you about getting involved, Sherlock. You’re not a lone wolf anymore. Perhaps it’s time you stopped acting like one.”

Mycroft’s shadow had barely left the doorway, when John Watson raced his way over to his former spot beside Sherlock’s bed, his wife Mary keeping a respectful distance.

 “How are you feeling?” John asked.

“I’m fine. What do we know?”

“Sherlock, you’re not fine. I restarted your heart on an airport tarmac.”

“And you did an excellent job. Kudos to your medical training. I am fine. Now, I hope you’ve been more productive than my brother. What do we know?”

“Nothing… I. Sherlock.”

“I suppose I must do everything myself, then.” Sherlock turned his gaze back to the laptop screen, where the footage continued on its loop.

 John sighed. “It can’t actually be Moriarty, can it? You said he was dead. That you saw it.”

“No question. I told you I just proved it.”

“No, you ‘proved’ that some pissed-off Victorian woman actually pulled it off. If it could be, if it is…”

“It isn’t.” This was it, Sherlock thought, this is thing that will lose John to him. Not even a real thing, just the illogical threat of something impossible. Sherlock glanced at Mary in the doorway, her bright red coat emphasizing the swollen belly that covered the child of John’s that she carried, a blazing sign of the other allegiances his friend had sworn fealty too. 

“Because if there’s even the chance it’s the man’s who wrapped me in semtex and made you jump off a roof --”

“It isn’t.” He could hear it now, he’d become too much of a danger, a liability and John would be gone.

“Then he’s going to wish he had died three years ago when we’re through.”

Sherlock blinked and really looked at John for the first time since he stepped off the plane and realized he’d made the same mistake far too many others had – thinking John Watson was ordinary, when in fact, he was the most extraordinary human being.

“Oh, John,” Sherlock’s eyes glimmered as turned the laptop screen toward his companion, “The game is on.”